As principals have increasingly become instructional leaders as the main part of their role, engaging staff in Collaborative Inquiry to inform professional development is critical. Using multiple data sources to determine gaps in student learning and well-being, and working collaboratively to develop a workable if/then statement is key to beginning a successful CI. Use of current sources of research to build capacity, and multiple opportunities to implement ideas with students, followed by collection of student evidence for analysis, should provide opportunities for next steps, and determination of the success of the strategies implemented.
Working on collaborative inquiries with my staff has given me the opportunity to participate as a co-learner, and has also helped to continue to build relational trust and working partnerships. Respectful dialogue and opportunities to challenge one another have really increased professional learning and strengthened the teaching collaborations in my building.
There is always the issue of how to engage reluctant staff members in professional development opportunities, and for myself as a leader, I see Collaborative Inquiry as an ideal opportunity to have staff give input into the project, both process and end goal. When staff have the chance to feel totally included and have some power in how the project evolves, there tends to be greater commitment and learning that takes place.
A tool that leaders can use to reflect upon the professional learning that both they and their schools are engaging is a blog. This public (depending on the settings applied) forum, is an opportunity to share the work and the learning with others. Blogs vary in level of formality, and in my opinion, should reflect the writer’s personality. When used as a reflective tool, they can be informative for both the writer, and the reader.
A blog is a good way to showcase the work that leaders are doing in their schools, as well as personal professional learning. I enjoy to write and reflect, and although I have generally done it for professional purposes in a private notebook, I am beginning to consider my blog a better place to engage in reflection. My blog also serves as digital portfolio for me, and I have included links, as well as my philosophy of education. In the links I have included my LinkedIn page, where readers can find out more about my professional experience, and my education. It continues to be a work in progress, and also links to my other life–my yoga. Given that I have done work combining yoga, mindfulness and education, I think it’s a great option to marry the two professionally.
While digital portfolios have not become common in my board, it is the way the world is moving. I have looked at digital portfolios of design professionals, and have gotten some great ideas. I also have looked at business professional portfolios online, where I have found some other great ideas. I have found that professionals in those areas are often more versed in these modalities, and are a great resource for educational professionals.
Using a digital portfolio to showcase yourself is an effective way to generate interest in any projects or ongoing work in which you are engaged, and once set up is an easily updated and maintained forum. Moving forward, it is my intention to continue to update my blog as my digital portfolio, including visuals and writing about work that I am doing–myself and with my staff. I see my blog/digital portfolio as continually evolving, and I am asking friends in fields outside of education for feedback, as well as colleagues so that I can make it the most comprehensive possible.